Officer Jeff Westerfield was on patrol on his midnight shift in Gary, Ind when he was shot inside his squad car. A passerby called 911 around 5:45 a.m.
“We don’t think it was a traffic stop,” Police Chief Wade Ingram said. “It may have stemmed from something earlier.”
The father of four daughters from a previous marriage, Westerfield joined the Gary police department in 1995 after having served in the US Army during Operation Desert Storm.
Today was his 47th birthday.
“Any loss of life, particularly a police officer’s loss of life, is devastating to the department and is devastating to a community,” Gary mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said at a news conference Sunday.
Westerfiled was due to be married in a month and. His fiancée Denise Cather talked about officer Westerfield’s love of family.
“He’s a fantastic man,” she said. “He was wonderful. He had a heart of gold he would help anybody. All they had to do was call. “
Friends and family say he loved to laugh and to help other and to ride his motorcycle, especially in honor of veterans in the area.
Westerfield is the first Gary officer shot and killed in the line of duty in 16 years.
Police have three people in custody. The investigation is ongoing.